Millions of people will be looking skyward during next week’s near-total solar eclipse — and many of them will be wearing special glasses that will let them view it safely.
Local retailers like London Drugs ordered thousands of eclipse glasses, but manager David Woogman said they were gone within days.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of interest. Every second question seems to be, ‘Do you have any left?'” Woogman said.
Science World has also sold out of the coveted glasses, adding that in the last two days they’ve received more than 300 calls from people looking for a pair.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s HR MacMillan Space Centre said they are in the same boat.
“We had a whole plethora of them. We actually did three separate orders, and we’ve gone through about 2,000 of the specific glasses in advance,” astronomer Derek Kief said.
He said they are not the only ones having trouble getting more.
“Everyone is out of glasses — if you look across North America, basically there are companies that can’t even ship anymore. I looked at multiple different companies that are looking at shipping and no one can even produce them in the quantity that’s desired.”
Kief said the centre will have more available for those attending their viewing event but they will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beware of knock-offs
Unfortunately, opportunists are flooding the market with fake eclipse glasses, a lesson Vancouver realtor Candace Rorhrick learned the hard way.
Rorhrick ordered 2,000 pairs of glasses to give away to promote her new business.
Her husband sourced the glasses, which were supposed to have been manufactured by American Paper Optics, online a few months ago.
“Yesterday, we received a tip that the glasses that we have look quite similar to ones that were knock-offs,” she said.
“I wouldn’t feel secure recommending them to anyone unless I was absolutely sure that they were safe to use.”
The U.S.-based company has issued a graphic showing how to tell their glasses from knock-offs.
What glasses should you buy?
If you’re still looking for some protective eyewear (or need to replace yours), the Better Business Bureau is recommending people do their research about who they’re getting their glasses from.
The Bureau says the American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors of solar eclipse glasses.
According to NASA, the eye gear must have certification, with a “designated ISO 12312-2 international standard.” The company that created the product and its contact information should be clearly printed on the glasses.
Certified eclipse glasses make sure no more than 0.00032 per cent of sunlight is transmitted to the eyes, according to Space.com. Regular sunglasses only protect the eyes from a fraction of sunlight and are made of different material.
Kief said anyone using eclipse glasses should be sure to properly inspect them.
“If there are any scratches on our lenses, throw them away immediately,” he said.
Kief also notes that the centre will have glasses and telescopes to help the public get a safe glimpse of the eclipse on Monday morning.
—With files from Tanya Beja, Katie Dangerfield, Maham Abedi, and CKNW reporter Emily Lazatin